Monday, May 5, 2014


With previous projects, the lighting has been somewhat of a problem to set up. Lighting itself is a separate role within industry and honestly I only knew the bare basics. Because I wanted to achieve a good overall lighting I decided to follow a tutorial that Animation Mentor produced on their blog (found HERE). Previously I had just been using directional lights for outdoor shots, creating a key light and back light. Whilst this worked to some extent, I always had issue with the shadows either being too grainy or too harsh. When creating a directional light, raytrace shadows are the default setting. The more you increase the shadow rays, the longer the render will take, however it will soften the shadows and not create such a harsh outline. As you can see below, without adjusting the shadow rays, the shadows themselves are very dark and harsh. They become too obvious and detract the eye from the character.

The tutorial that I followed made use of creating a physical sun and sky within Mental Ray in Maya. It's a quick way to create a more realistic and nice effect for your scene, however it does need some adjusting. Using physical sun and sky can sometimes create a washed out effect, textures and colours will loose their vibrancy and appear somewhat flat. To counteract this, the node that is created from sun and sky 'mia_exposure-simple' needs to be edited. The gamma attribute is mainly responsible, so dropping this down to 1 will normally fix the washed out look. I followed the majority of the tutorial and it produced a really nice render. I had never really tried adjusting the colour of the lights before and by doing this it creates more of a realistic look. There is never just one colour in a scene. The tutorial also talked about light linking the eyes, however I didn't feel this was very necessary, yet I have used it in another part of my animation which I will talk about later. I made sure that once my lights were set up correctly in one scene, I exported these out to which I could them import into my next scene and have exactly the same setup. Previously I never did this and the lighting changed a fair bit between shots and I found it quite noticeable. The lights still need some adjustment in some shots, depend on where the camera was facing but the main setup was the same.

Directional Light

Directional with Physical Sun & Sky

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